I haven’t attended a UP Lantern Parade in ages. I can’t even remember when the last time was. Maybe it was when I was still an undergrad, when I was actually IN the parade, not watching it. Some friends of mine attend, like it was part of some great big pilgrimage. If I lived nearer campus, I probably wouldn’t miss it. All that creativity! All that energy! The cold air!
Last night I was at the Christmas party of my high school batchmates. Across me was Ney, who this morning was attempting to break 60 minutes in her 10k run. That reminded me of January 2008 when I joined the UP Centennial Run, the 5k leg. It was still dark when we started running, and the fairy lights were still on in the bushes, and there was a huge swathe of mist in the air. It was cold. I was wearing two layers of running jersey. I was shivering. UP was beautiful.
It used to be that whenever I would dream of home, it would be of this place. I never dream of the place where I live now. They say the home in your head is the home of your heart – that is, of your childhood, if you had a happy one. Mine was extremely happy. I remember cool mornings, walking around campus with six dogs, with friends, chatting about everything and nothing. The air was clean. There was green everywhere. Time was slow under the acacia arches.
After the Lantern Parade people used to gather at the Sunken Garden for a concert, to grill some barbecue, to laze about on sleeping bags and have a forbidden (within school perimeter) beer. It would be the last day of the academic year, and people would celebrate. One morning I woke up, and the sky was my bedroom ceiling. Three of my close friends were snoring nearby on their sleeping bags. It was amazing we were not arrested; we were the only people left in the entire Sunken Garden. The sun was just about to rise. I looked around, with this sense that the dawn seemed unreal. I was shivering; UP was cold. And so beautiful.